Skin Nerd: This is why you need to know your skin type

It’s time to take a closer look at your skin, says Jennifer Rock
Skin Nerd: This is why you need to know your skin type

As a first step to understanding what your skin needs, it is important to note it is functioning on a daily basis.

Whatever your skin goals may be, I truly believe that the key to skin that radiates health lies in education, enlightenment and empowerment. As a first step to understanding what your skin needs, it is important to note it is functioning on a daily basis. Looking beyond the traditional skin type categorizations such as oily, dry and combination is necessary now that products and diagnostic methods are more advanced in assessing your skin’s condition, texture and performance more accurately. But when you are standing in the chemist or are browsing the internet how do you work out the differences between so many similar-sounding skin types? Here I'm going to address three of the most commonly mixed-up sets of skin descriptors to arm you with the knowledge to make more informed skin decisions...

Dry vs dehydrated

Dry skin, which can be genetic, is a skin type where the skin lacks natural oils. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is a condition that occurs when the skin is lacking moisture. Dehydrated skin is very common and happens because of the lifestyle choices hoomans make (such as not drinking enough water) or due to an impaired skin barrier, which has led to the loss of moisture through the epidermis. When your skin is dehydrated, any lines you have will look more prominent and your skin may feel irritated and tight. To check if my skin is dehydrated, I often do a test in the bathroom mirror. If you scrunch up your nose and see little taut lines, this could be a sign that your skin is dehydrated. Help your skin from within by ensuring that you drink plenty of water and include essential fatty acids within your diet.

Sensitive vs sensitised

Sensitive skin is a skin type, which is something you have from birth and involves dealing with chronic irritation. As your skin is more susceptible to reactions, those with sensitive skin must be cautious about coming into contact with ingredients or factors that can trigger it. In contrast, sensitisation is caused by lifestyle factors such as overuse of a product or neglecting the skin. Those with sensitised skin tend to suffer from inflammation and can be more prone to rosacea, redness, spots and itchiness.

Changes in temperature (i.e. coming from the freezing cold into a centrally heated home) can sensitise the skin, as can skipping SPF, over-exfoliation and the misuse of powerful skincare ingredients such as vitamin A. If your skin suddenly starts rejecting an ingredient after years of use, it is likely that your skin has become sensitised. Another sign is noticing a red, scaly texture or a tight feeling after cleansing.

Pigment vs hyper pigment

All hoomans have pigment within their skin to help to shield it from light exposure. Prolonged exposure can cause enzymatic activity that attempts to create a shield for the skin. Pigmentation or hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin, tan or freckles. Non-pigment, in contrast, is a loss of pigment, signifying a loss of protection. Though pigmentation can be caused by sun exposure, it can also be caused by hormones and can happen during pregnancy, puberty or when taking medications such as the contraceptive pill or HRT. There are many types of pigmentation, including melasma, which presents itself as grey and light brown patches of skin that tend to appear in sun-exposed areas, often in the shape of a butterfly across the nose and cheeks.

Non-pigment or hypopigmentation occurs when melanocytes and melanin decrease in the skin. It can also happen when we have less tyrosine (an amino acid that is used to make pigment). The daily use of SPF50 sunscreen is my recommendation for any pigment-related concern. Daily application can prevent hypopigmentation and prevent it from getting worse.

Whilst we have covered a few different skin queries here, if you have any questions or concerns about identifying the condition of your skin and how best to address your needs, please contact for full support – they are ready to answer all things skin-related!

Nerdie Pick

Soothe and repair dry skin with Avene Cicalfate + Restorative Protective Cream. Containing zinc copper complex, an antibacterial agent and C + Restore, a postbiotic, this fragrance-free moisturiser restores, calms and brings comfort to very dry, irritated skin fast. Apply twice daily for softer, more balanced skin.

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